Sabtu, 17 Oktober 2009

Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson's?

Researchers in Europe are about to begin a long and expensive series of experiments to determine if transplantation of fetal brain cells into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease will improve the patients’ condition. The study is raising some eyebrows in scientific quarters. Two similar experiments carried out in the U.S. in the 1990s, admittedly when the techniques were less well developed, failed miserably.

If they get final approval to go ahead, the researchers will harvest fetal brain cells from 6-9-week-old human fetuses and then inject the cells into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Up to six fetuses will be needed to obtain the 8 million cells to be transplanted into each Parkinson’s patient, according to a news article in Science. The first patients will receive the injections in 2012 as part of a safety study. If all goes well, a double-blind trial complete with sham surgeries will be carried out to see if the procedure actually benefits patients.

Controversial? Yes. Worthwhile? You decide.

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